For something of a change in pace, today I have an interview with Historical Romance author Grace Elliott author of A Dead Man's Debt and Eulogy's Secret.
Grace, lease tell our readers a little about yourself?
My name is Grace Elliot and I lead a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. I work in companion animal practise just outside London, in a village with a duckpond in front of the Norman church - history is all around me!
I also act as housekeeping staff to five cats, two teenage sons and a guinea pig (not necessarily in order of significance!) I’m an avid reader and will give any genre a go, but my favourite is historical romance. My debut novel, “A Dead Man’s Debt” was published last year, and the first in The Huntley Trilogy, “Eulogy’s Secret” was released this October!
When did you start writing? What was it you first wrote?
I started writing after a “Eureka” moment.
That moment came when at pa school reunion. Friends I hadn’t seen for twenty years were eager to know if I still wrote. My puzzled expression betrayed the fact that I’d completely forgotten how the stories I wrote for English homework, were often read to a hushed class. At that reunion, it all came flooding back - the satisfaction of crafting a story, of writing until your fingers ached, of losing yourself in the characters…so I went home and after a twenty year gap, started writing again.
My first full length novel (unpublished ) is called “The Woman Who Paints Horses” and was inspired by a nearby cottage where a famous Victorian artist used to live. I looked into her life story and was hooked in the way that you are when the truth is stranger than fiction. I have a special place in my heart for that story, and who knows, one day I may re-write it and see what happens.
What period do you write about and why?
“A Dead Man’s Debt” and my latest book, “Eulogy’s Secret” are both set in the Regency period. I gravitated to this era because of its natural romance, a time when women’s fashion favoured flimsy empire line gowns and men cared about the cut of their jacket. It was a time when men were such dangerous creatures that for a lady to be alone in a room with one could ruin her reputation. And then there’s the horses and carriages, moonlight drives and candlelit balls…and that’s part of why I write, for the escapism, so what more fertile ground for the imagination of the romance author than the regency.
What is your theory or belief on how historically accurate you need to be? How does that affect your story? For alternative history writers: how did you decide to change history? How do you reconcile it with “real” history?
Historical accuracy is tantamount, and yet for me as a romance writer, it shouldn’t be so ‘in your face’ as to trip the reader up. Take the example of dialogue. If I were to write authentic contemporary speech appropriate for the Georgina period, it would be almost impenetrable for today’s reader. So a compromise is in order. It would be a huge mistake to use words or phrases that are blatantly out of keeping with the era, but to update the way English was spoken then to help the flow of dialogue, is in my view, acceptable.
Having said that, the importance of historical accuracy can invoke a lot of strong feelings as I recently found out. Whilst watching an episode of “The Tudors” I spotted Anne Boleyn riding astride and queried in a blog post of mine, whether this would have been acceptable in Tudor times. The deluge of responses to that post proved to me that accuracy is something people get very heated about and woe betide anyone that laughs in the face of accuracy. (For those that are interested here is the link to that post: http://graceelliot-author.blogspot.com/2011/09/did-anne-boleyn-ride-astride.html )
Tell me about your main character, real or fictional and why?
The heroine in my recent release, “Eulogy’s Secret” is Eulogy Foster. Her character, and indeed the novel itself, arose out of seeing a poster on the London Underground! Whilst taking my son’s to the theatre, through the scratched glass of a Jubilee line train, I saw a poster with the word “Eulogy” in capital letters across it. This stuck in my mind and it occurred to me what an enigmatic name “Eulogy” would make. Something truly terrible must have happened for a parent to name their child that - perhaps the mother dying in childbirth, or even something darker and more sinister…And so the idea behind Eulogy’s Secret was born. (That poster, by the way, was advertising a memorial concert at the Royal Albert Hall.)
Who would you most like to meet from one of your novels? Tell us about them.
What a good question! I’d love to meet Tristan Farrell from “Eulogy’s Secret”. Farrell is the Irish artist who with Eulogy as his model is inspired to paint truly great works of art that set the Ton buzzing. He’s quite a character and has an artist’s way of seeing the truth behind the façade. He’d be excellent company and since Eulogy has already bagged the hero, Jack Huntley, I’d happily spend time in the company of the Irish charmer, Tristan Farrell.
What is your next project?
I’m hard at work at book two in The Huntley Trilogy (working title “Hope’s Betrayal”.) Each book features one of the three Huntley brothers and the hero in Hope’s Betrayal is the dashing naval Captain, George Huntley. I know when the writing is going well when I dream about the characters - and even if I say so myself, Captain George Huntley is a humdinger of a man, whom I’m totally in love with. I can’t wait to finish the book so that I can unleash him on the world and spread the infatuation. Hope’s Betrayal is going to be an action packed historical romance with smuggling skulduggery, treachery and of course….a love that brings Huntley to his knees.
Grace, thank you so much for dropping by and answering our questions.